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WRESTLING COLUMNS

HBK's Greatest Challenge
August 30, 2005 by Nicholas S. Johnson


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This article may capture the interest of wrestling fans who are born again Christians-one of them being me - and I wrote it! This is just my own personal opinion, but this article has been a long time coming.

It's no secret that Shawn Michaels is one of the greatest wrestlers in the WWE, and in knowing this, he will be inducted in the WWE Hall of Fame one day. We've heard HBK tell us time and again that he is "the Icon, the Showstoppa, the Main Event." He even dubbed himself "Mr. WrestleMania." However, there is one title that Shawn Michaels has taken on proudly: BORN AGAIN CHRISTIAN.

I admire Shawn Michaels as an excellent performer and a great talent, but I further admire him as a born again Christian. I like the fact that HBK comes out in his entrance and gets in prayer mode (despite the fact that "Sexy Boy" is blaring throughout the arena. This new Shawn Michaels really is a lot different from the 1996 Shawn Michaels. He is a family man, but more than that, he knows that he is a child of God. However, like all born again Christians, HBK has fallen by the wayside a bit.

Travel with me if you will to the February 9, 2004 episode of Monday Night Raw. In this particular episode, Chris Benoit was about to sign a contract to challenge Triple H for the WWE World Championship at WrestleMania XX. Suddenly, Shawn Michaels burst out on the scene and stated that Benoit would have to take a backseat; HBK's reasoning was that he still needed to find out for himself who the better wrestler was out of himself and Triple H. Well, Benoit understood Michaels' reasoning, but when he explained that HBK would have to wait until after WrestleMania XX, Michaels leveled the Rabid Wolverine with some Sweet Chin Music, then signed his own name on the contract.

Upon seeing this, one of my friends looked at me and said: "Saved people don't do that! Jesus didn't tell Shawn Michaels to superkick Benoit and steal his contract!"

Shawn Michaels has been very open about his new Christian life, and is not ashamed to tell anyone that he is saved. It is because of this fact that HBK has now faced challenges left and right-not just in the ring, but outside of it. We have all read news reports that ever since D-Generation X reformed, Michaels has been rather unhappy with some of the skits. In an interview of WWE.com, Michaels himself stated that the HBK we see every Monday night is totally different from the HBK away from the ring. I happened to watch the episode of Raw where DX dropped manure on Vince and Shane McMahon, and as the crowd chanted... well, you know what they chanted, but HBK did have a rather discomforting look on his face. Of course, Triple H probably didn't make it any better when he said: "Because it's Shawn, it's holy..." You know the rest!

I admire Shawn Michaels for everything that he is doing in order to show the world that he is a born again Christian. Granted, he should not have superkicked Benoit and written his name on the WrestleMania XX contract, nor should he have superkicked Hulk Hogan and talked about his politicking in the past, but hey-that's entertainment. And I refuse to talk about the incident at the 1997 Survivor Series.

If I seem a little too sensitive about this, then it's because I know what HBK is going through. I'm sure that the late Eddie Guerrero went through the same trials and tribulations before The Lord took him home. I mean-Eddie lied, cheated, and stole in his matches... but he was very honest about it!

I am really interested in the feedback of the wrestling fans as it relates to this sensitive article, but I promise that I won't get too upset.

by Nicholas S. Johnson ..


Zero Trigger wrote:
HBK is a family man, a religious man, and a legend. However, what made him what he is today is the fact that he is an entertainer. When he kicked Benoit. When he took on Hogan. When he DX-chopped his opponents. He is an entertainer.

He can be religious. No problem there. He can be born again. Whatever. The main issue is that he is no special case in terms of wrestlers. He is an entertainer. He knows that it was his job that took someone named Michael Hickenbottom and turned him into "The Heart Break Kid." If you feel like he is doing things against his will, fine, but don't assume. He knows what he has to do: either suck it up, or retire with his legacy intact.

I would feel really sad if he did retire just because of his religion though. I hope he realizes that if God really does exist, he would want him to do something that he loves, something that entertains millions of people every Monday Night (and occasional Sundays), and something that requires self-sacrifice, will power, love of the fans and his family, and to give people the daydream image of HBK from so many years ago...
Erkka Järvinen wrote:
Funny thing about this is that Shawn Michaels IS the same man that he was in 96' If you think that cursing or portraying sex makes you a bad person or a bad believer, you really are lost on what is important in believing.
Richard Lobb wrote:
HBK didn't really steal Benoit's contract. Vince was always planning a triple threat between the three men and that was his angle in getting the match. Shawn Michaels isn't the born again Christian, Michael Hickinbottom is. That part is just worked into HBK's character. Wrestling is fake, so what he does in the ring is completely different to real life. I don't think he should be criticised for two fake angles, because you're probably right, born again Christian Michael Hickinbottom wouldn't do that, but when HBK's in the ring, he isn't Michael Hickinbottom, he's Shawn Michaels, doing whatever Vince thinks will get ratings (but not looking at HHH's DX female cheerleaders).
Andrew Webber wrote:
First off, I enjoyed your column.I thought it was very well written and your brought up lots of points that i'm sure die hard Christians and or Shawn Michaels fans wonder about. I have been struggling to figure out what to say exactly because it is a sensitive topic and my comments could offend lots of people, so I write this as my opinion. I hate Shawn Michaels. I always have. I never cheered for him and never will. However I do believe he is truthful about his conversion to Christ and becoming a Born Again Christian. With that said lets see him do the right thing lets see him help out Ted Dibiase's Christian Wrestling Promotion on a permanent baisis. I have no problem with him being a born again Christian. I just wished he wouldn't promote it so much on WWE television. He is getting involved in ridiculous feuds that make his conversion look fake example. Shawn Michaels w/ God v. McMahons. Plus his heel turns i Think Hurt his cause. The real problem is that the WWE is exploiting this. WWE needs to leave Religion out of Wrestling period. Wrestling should always be Secular. We should not boo someone because he believes in Islam or cheer someone because they are the christian if anything this is sick.I know this has not happened, but it has been beaten around the bush especially with the Hassan charecter. It's bad enough that WWE basically gives the US Administration line that the troops in IRAQ are fighting over there to keep us safe at home. Which is an opinion. Many feel that Iraq was never a threat to the US. Im fine if they do shows in front of the troops. The troops do deserve it, but they shouldn't try to make statements that cloud facts or statements that are just a matter of opinion. I guess my message is the WWE should just not exploit controversial things. They should not abuse Shawn Michaels faith in Christ and make him look fake. They should just stay out of controversial Issues that do affect Real people's lives. Wrestling is a show, but it does affect people in many differnt ways and they should be mindful of that.
Josh O. wrote:
Im also a HUGE HBK fan, but I gotta say, while you may make a good point, there really wasn't enough in your article to convince me at all. Firstly, I have to say, super-kicking Benoit, while not perhaps the most 'charitable' of actions, doesn't seem to me like something that is too greatly disrespectful to his religion. Granted, im personally not religious, but I do admire those who have found one that works and can stick to it. I also gotta say that, really, apart from the "Holy S--t" line, I personally can't see how dumping a load of manure on someone is offensive to any religion, and also, I believe Montreal is now an invalid argument about HBK's faith, religiousness or whatever it is... that was LONG before he found god, and while it may not be right, he has apologised for it, admitted he was wrong, and has admitted he lied directly to Bret. What I want to know, is how Bret can forgive Vince, who set the entire thing up, and yet not forgive Michaels. "Don't shoot the messenger"
Roman Khanna wrote:
Look honestly i'm sick of this i wacth wrestling for wrestling not god. you know this is just typical.
Neck Break Kid wrote:
Obviously there are certain things that Shawn Michaels wouldn't and shouldn't do and say in the ring but just like an actor everything they do in a movie doesn't portray what they do in real life.
Dan Altieri wrote:
I think the one big thing that isn't mentioned in this article is the fact that wrestling is a work...a show...a production. Shawn Michaels is playing a character. I can understand that as Christians we need to be set apart from the world, but who's to say that what Shawn's doing at WWE is anything past playing a character" I can understand your point if you mentioned some of the vulgar storylines with women or language, but, a superkick to the face" This is still wrestling. I'm not gong to defend Shawn Michaels or support him because I don't know him personally, that's between him and God.
Ritwik Bhuyan wrote:
Love him or hate him, he simply the very best ever. The showstopper, the headliner, the main event, the icon, the greatest of all time, the Heartbreak Kid, Shawn Michaels!!
damien james wrote:
i may be blasted for this statement but i think that shawn,like every born again christian has to deal with the fact that he is a bloody hipocryt! firstly to follow the words of christ you contradict the rules of the church,secondly i'm sure hbk has enough "silver pieces" so if he's not happy he can quit!
Michael Brown wrote:
I don't think that the stuff HBK does inside the ring isa nything against his Christianity because this is his job. His new found religion does cause him to say no to alot of different angles i'm sure so he obvisiouly doesn't just brush off his relationship woth God. He just doesn't care abut what others think of him and he goes out to please himself, the fans, and what he thinks is right among God. Even Shawn said himself that he's a Christian with a sense of humor and I think there needs to be more of that among other Christian people. I'm a little surprised that you didn't mention HBK being apart of the whole God Angle with Mr. McMahon because then and only then would I have to agree with you when it comes to whats to much to go through with.
Mike wrote:
OK Please don't take this the wrong way, I have the utmost respect for religious differences, and beliefs, but I really feel something is missing from this whole HBK and WWE vs religion issue he faces. I know a bit (not enough I will admit) about Born Again beliefs, and respect them. I know HBK would try to live his religion the best he can as well. I also realize there are things the WWE and even he did that are in stark contrast to his current beliefs, but there is a bottom line to the WWE......... IT IS NOT REAL!!!!!!!!

Now I am not saying HBK should participate in all the angles presented to him, but really, something like kicking Benoit, or the feces incident (which I didn't particularly care for) is nothing more than Shawn Michaels acting out a role written for a character named HBK. We need to accept that, and as much as I hesitate to say this, not knowing what the REAL story behind what wrestlers say or think off camera, maybe Shawn needs to get over this point, and realize that he is an actor/stuntman (and among the best I have to say), and he is playing a role people know is not him....I mean really.....how many people really believe Will Smith has saved the world a handful of times in between CDs"""

Sorry if I rambled, it was a very nice article, and I enjoyed it, I just thought I would add my two cents in!! I hope to see another from you soon....thanks for listening/reading.
Paul McCarthy wrote:
well i dont refuse to talk about the survivor series incident i am bret harts no1 fan and shawn michaels took his career from him ok he went to wcw but he didnt want to and michaels says if he had to do it again he would not very christian like my friend.
Collin wrote:
Hi I'm Collin and I'm 11 and as a born again Christian loved your column I was born into a Christian family and love wrestling but in WWE it's bad. Hopefully it gets better and HBK goes to the Hall Of Fame.
Mike C. wrote:
Erkka and Damien, why don't you actually explain what you mean b/c all you did was make an anti-christian blanket statement about hypocrisy. Why are you so mad at God"
Patrick wrote:
gosh sometimes I wonder whats the matter with you people when will you all relize that Shawn Micheals is a character pertrayed by Micheal Hickonbottom They are 2 different people the micheals televison shows you and the micheal that actually exsist live to different lifestyles so i pity any one who questions HBK salvation because of the chacter he plays once a week. and even if they were the same people were not perfect even the holiest of all men is bound to sooner or later sin -
David Krajcik wrote:
Hey Nick. It's good to see an article on this topic. I'm a Christian (born again, as all Christians must be) and was shocked to hear of HBK's conversion (along with the likes of Vince Russo, Animal & Hawk, Ted DiBiase, Sting, etc). I've been saved now for just 6 years. It's been good to share HBK's testimony with others who are not saved and all, but now with his DX thing it's pretty hypocritical. I personally don't watch WWE anymore because of the lewdness and immorality. For those that do it's between them and God; as for me, I can't ignore Ps 101:3. I admit at times I will watch SmackDown for a bit, but once the convictions begin I'll shut it off and thankfully I don't have cable to have the temptation of watching RAW & ECW. I do however read updates and look at websites like this.

I don't know how HBK justifies the DX intro (with the dancing strippers), the "crotch chop", etc. I remember reading an article where he said he felt very uncomfortable the first time he did the "crotch chop" with HHH after their reunion and said did you notice I didn't do it down my waist but around my abdomen (or chest) The "lying" and cheating in wrestling is just acting I guess, or part of the sport... but when it comes to other areas like swearing, sexual immorality (or the appearance thereof), I believe that enters another area of sin. Again, I don't know how he justifies it or where he is at now in his walk as a Christian... maybe he's backslidden and "away" from Christ at this point..."

I know from reading articles and parts of his book, that he has an incredible burden to reach his colleagues for Christ and see them saved but I think he has went too far in trying to be "like them" to reach them. In all of this, I don't judge him because I'm sure there are areas where I am in sin, and without somebody pointing it out, I won't know. I do believe though that some of what he is involved in now in this DX alliance is sin. 1Jn5:17 says, "All unrighteousness is sin." God's standard is high.
Robert Inayat wrote:
Hey man. My name is Robert "The Cat" Inayat and I'm 15. I really enjoyed reading your article on Shawn Michaels. I live in UK but my parents were both born in Pakistan, so therefore, being a Pakistani Christian, I get a lot of hate from Muslims, saying that I can't be Pakistani if I'm not a Muslim-and that's from seven-year old children! LOL.

Anyways, I am really pleased that you touched a topic like one of religion in sports. Many famous boxers are born-again Christians and this often helps them get success. I'll quit babbling on and cut the long story short.

In my eyes, by Shawn being a proud born-again Christian, he is converting a lot of people to our faith, who see him as an example. HBK is just a character he plays, like a lot of Christian actors may play roles they are nothing like in real-life.
Kenneth Bodine wrote:
I'd have to agree with you on HBK'S latest challenge being on the outside of the ring. What I think people forget is that yes, he is a "Born again Christian," but he is also an entertainer as well. A man's faith isn't a career-crippling thing as most people have come to decide is the case with Shawn. It's not like he's beating children on air or running around doing drugs and showing up stoned (that's RVD's and Randy Orton's job). He's acting as a sports entertainer, in a rivalry with the boss.

Lest we forget how the whole DX return got started: The groundwork was laid with HBK refusing to become the man he was in his younger days, not allowing himself to be corrupted by the boss. Bottom line is HBK is a character, an entertainer no more no less. An actor in Hollywood is not received badly for playing a villain in a movie doing evil things even though in real life he/she may be a religious person, so why should the same not be held true for HBK" He is great at what he does, and he'll long be remembered as one of the greatest in wrestling history. We should all focus less on "Is it right for him to be this, and is it right for him to do that"", and try enjoying him while he's here doing what he loves to do. HBK the legend lives on!
Chris Donaldson wrote: I have something to say about this particular article: I liked it!

My name is Chris Donaldson, and I am a close friend of the man who wrote it. I am also the individual who made the statement that "Jesus didn't tell Shawn Michaels to superkick Benoit and steal his contract." I've had time to read the comments that y'all had about my friend's rather sensitive article, and while I do understand that everyone has a right to their opinion, I feel that some of your responses are rather childish. The whole point of this article is to express the fact that if one says he is a born again Christian, then there are some things that he should not do... as much. Like my friend who wrote the article, I am a Christian also, and I know that as a Christian, there are some things that I should not do and/ or say. Sure, Christians are human. Sure, Christians are not perfect. Sure, Christians will fall by the wayside every once in a while, but come on, now! The whole point of this article is that whether HBK is an entertainer, he should not participate in storylines that will affect his true-life Christianity. There are standards and practices that a born again Christian must follow... and I STILL say that Jesus didn't tell HBK to superkick Benoit and steal his contract! I know it was a doggone storyline, but my goodness! Come on, now!
Surit Das Gupta wrote:
---Hi, my name is Surit and I am a christian from India. First of all Shawn Michaels is my favorite wrestler and I watch the WWE because of him. He is the greatest, charismatic, and most athletic wrestler I have ever seen. He is also a man who is trying to earn a living to provide for his family. It's true that he cannot do some things that are against God. But I'm sure that as he does them, he must be saying "I'm sorry God please forgive me". I, personally as a Christian, know that God is a forgiving God and not like some of the anti-christian fans and anti-hbk fans (like Errka and Kyle). Whatever HBK does is always understood by God. In the end God forgives whoever asks Him for forgiveness. HBK, as a Christian, asks for forgiveness all the time and so do I, because in the end, even though we did not screw Bret Hart we do hurt other people in our daily lives too.Thank you and may God bless HBK---
Jason Lock wrote:
hey props to you for coming out and writing this Chrisitian based article. I believe that Shawn Michaels has to be disearning about what he does. I myself am a Christian and I agree with what this article has to say. Since he is an actor and and entertainer, and we all know that WWE is scripted, Shawn Michaels should be able to tell Vince what he wants to and doesn't want to do. He is a repected Superstar with a good history in the WWE and he has the right to be able to perform in a good Christian way. I stopped watching WWE for a bit when Vince came out with the McMahanism religion or whatever, that was just blatent blasphemy and Shawn should have talked to Vince about that. In response to what Surit said, you do haev to question is one really is a Christian when their entire life is devoted to something that doesn't please God. I can't personally saw where Shawn is at because I'm not Shawn. You said that God will forgive if you ask him to and that is true. But if you devote your life to sin, like Shawn is in working for the WWE and all they represent (eg THE DIVAS!), you have to question whether he really is a Christian. You said that you are from India, Surit. I dont know much about Buddhism but this is an exapme that is the same thing. Say and Indian has a Buddhist statue in their house. They say they are a Christian but still pray to the statue because their family or friends are Buddhist. The Indian prays to God for forgiveness after every time they pray to the statue but they still do it everyday of their life. The statue is an idol. The Bible commands us to "have no idols before ME (God)" Anything can be an idol. For Shawn Michaels it may be the WWE. He performs for the WWE and sins for the WWE everytime he steps into the ring. The WWE is Shawn Michaels idol. He may ask forgiveness but he is living in contant sin. The meaning of Christian is: "Christ-follower" or to be "Christ - like". Because Michaels is not living Christ-like, I question his salvation. But I dont have the authority to say he is or not. I apologize if my analogy of Buddhism was not accurate, but it is an example of an idol. --Let His will be done
Zitkat wrote:
Im a born again saved christian myself and I know what HBK is going through. Its hard having a profession that influences sex and violence like it does, but he doesnt have to be part of that and and trys his best to keep away from that stuff and you could tell on t.v. he is uncomfortable with some of his roles in the WWE. I am an upcoming wrestler and I am now at a wrestling school in new jersey and if I ever make it too the WWE( which I might in the next couple of years because I've had some innovative meetings with WWE talent scouts) I will play a christian charcter, a good guy
Josh. O. wrote:
Just because Jesus didn't tell Michaels to super-kick Benoit and take the contract, it doesn't mean Jesus didn't tell him NOT to. I'm not, in any way, mocking yours, or any, religion, but I am saying how is that offensive to a Born Again" If you can honestly explain that to me, without avoiding it, I will agree with you, or at least admit you have a good point. But you haven't, you have just said Jesus didn't tell him to do it.

And at Paul McCarthy, I'm still holding to the fact that VINCE MCMAHON took Bret's career, Shawn was simply the method of conveying the message. Like he said in his book, "Jack Ruby". And furthermore, you have to look at the timeline. That act was perpetrated before Michaels was born-again, and he honestly can't be held accountable for that, saying that's an un-Christian like act, when it was before he changed his life. He has now apologised for it, and has changed his attitude to the whole event. The quote of "I would do it again", I believe, was also said before he was born-again (but I'm not 100% on that, if anyone knows, let us know thanks...)
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